The following is published on the website of the National Cancer Institute
Closely watching a patient’s condition but not giving treatment unless symptoms appear or change. Watchful waiting is sometimes used in conditions that progress slowly. It is also used when the risks of treatment are greater than the possible benefits. During watchful waiting, patients may be given certain tests and exams. Watchful waiting is sometimes used in prostate cancer. It is a type of expectant management.
A treatment plan that involves closely watching a patient’s condition but not giving any treatment unless there are changes in test results that show the condition is getting worse. Active surveillance may be used to avoid or delay the need for treatments such as radiation therapy or surgery, which can cause side effects or other problems. During active surveillance, certain exams and tests are done on a regular schedule. It may be used in the treatment of certain types of cancer, such as prostate cancer, urethral cancer, and intraocular (eye) melanoma. It is a type of expectant management. Also called active monitoring.
Prostate Cancer – New data support watchful waiting for prostate cancer
Prostate cancer aggressiveness may be established when the tumor is formed and not alter with time, according to a study published in Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research. Researchers from the Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital (components of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute) found that after the introduction of widespread prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening, the proportion of patients diagnosed with advanced-stage cancers dropped by more than six-fold in 22 years, but the proportion diagnosed with high Gleason grade cancers did not change substantially. This suggests that low-grade prostate cancers do not progress to higher grade over time.
See more on Prostate Cancer page